Denver Voting Problems Could Play Big Role in November

September 2006
The Rocky Mountain News reports today that the Denver Election Commission is making changes to its voting system after several problems were reported after the August primary. While the story talks a lot about specific errors with machines and poll workers - details that aren't really that exciting - this is a story that is potentially very important for people not just in Denver, but around the state. There were a lot of reports after the August primary of voters receiving the wrong ballot in Denver, and turnout for the primary was much lower than in years past. If voter turnout in Denver is low in November, a lot of Democratic candidates - most notably Bill Ritter - are in BIG trouble. Democrat Ken Salazar is probably in the U.S. Senate today because of the voters of Denver. Salazar beat Republican Pete Coors in 2004 by 100,510 votes statewide; but it was in Denver where he probably won the race, outpolling Coors by 109,193 votes in the Mile High City alone. Salazar picked up so many more votes than Coors in Denver - 169,580 to 60,387 - that he had a huge buffer protecting him from more Coors votes in other parts of the state. If fewer votes are cast in Denver, for whatever reason, this November, then it could mean the difference between Governor Bill Ritter and Governor Bob Beauprez. Ritter currently has a healthy lead on Beauprez in the polls - 16 points, according to a new poll from Rasmussen Reports - but that lead won't mean much if the people who are going to vote for him don't show up to vote (or if their votes aren't properly counted). There's no evidence that Denver's voting problems could put Ritter in this position, but it remains a very real scenario whereby Beauprez could sneak in and steal the governor's race.